Prisoner artist with eagleA large copper eagle made by a prisoner at Christchurch Men’s Prison has been gifted to Pillars, the charity for children of prisoners.

Pillars plans to auction the eagle, made by a plumbing trainee, on the TradeMe site as part of its charity week activities. (The eagle is on the site for auction from Wednesday 27 September).

“Pillars is an important service for children of prisoners and a great cause to support through the donation of this artwork,” says Christchurch Men’s Prison Assistant Prison Director Pablo Godoy.

The eagle sculpture is nearly one metre high with an impressive one metre wing span. It took the prisoner around 70 hours to complete.

At the time, *John was one of a group of 13 prisoners at Christchurch Men’s Prison completing a 17 week basic trade skills course. He saw potential to make something from the scrap copper in the plumbing workshop and asked if he could use it to make a sculpture in his free time.

“We are amazed at the beauty and detail of what he has created. He is a very talented artist,” says Pablo. “While John passed the course and gained a qualification in basic plumbing and drain laying, it is sculpture and working with copper that has really caught his interest.”

John has had exhibits in the past, before his time in prison. He has worked with many materials including wood, bone, greenstone, copper and mother of pearl.

“Basically I use whatever is available to me,” says John.

The arts can be an important part of prisoner rehabilitation. They help prisoners to express themselves and develop new forms of communication. The arts can also open prisoners’ eyes to new or previously unrecognised skills and hobbies, giving them a more constructive way to spend their free time.

John is really pleased to have been able to create something which will make a real difference for others. “I chose Pillars because it is a worthy cause and they do so much for children in need.”

Pillars provides support and mentoring services to parents and the estimated 20,000 children who have a parent in prison in New Zealand.

“Children of prisoners are among some of the most vulnerable children in our community,” says Pillars founder Verna McFelin.

“They are in a situation they didn’t choose, yet they face a sentence of their own. They become the invisible victims of crime and can become socially isolated and deprived. They need our support to live positive lives.”

The funds raised will enable Pillars to do even more for the children they support.

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of this stunning sculpture. We have been holding this piece as a feature for our auction week,” says Verna. “Children of prisoners deserve a future like we want all kiwi kids to have – not to be our future prisoners.”

The prisoner sculptor created a Pegasus horse last year which raised $9,000 for charities Salvation Army and prison chaplains.

To bid on the auction, go toécor/ornaments-sculptures/birds/auction-1427425544.htm.